Jersey, Guernsey, what’s the difference? Both breeds hale from the English Channel on the coast of France. Both breeds produce rich, tasty milk. While it is true the two dairy cattle breeds share some similarities, they also have unique characteristics. Their bodies, coats, kinds of milk they produce, and even their personalities are distinctive. It is safe to say there is more about them that is dissimilar than not. In this blog, we will compare what they look like, what kind of milk they produce, and their personalities.
Jersey vs. Guernsey: How They Look
When it comes to these two cow breeds, the Guernsey cow has a size advantage over a Jersey. Medium-to-large framed, mature Guernsey cows can weigh up to 1,400 pounds (sows) and 2,000 pounds (bulls). Most of them have horns, except the polled Guernsey lines, which are rare. Guernsey cows are a pale fawn to reddish-gold color. Some might be solid-colored while others have white spots. The gold coloring extends to their skin.
Jersey cows weigh in between 800 and 1,200 pounds when fully mature. They are one of the smallest dairy breeds, with small-to medium-frames. Their look is a bit more refined in the shoulders and head than Guernsey cows. Jerseys come in many shades of brown, with a face and hips that are darker than their bodies. Purebred Jersey cows are born with horns. It is common practice to remove the horns when they are calves.
Who makes more milk?
Ask those who raise both Jerseys and Guernseys which makes better milk, and you will likely get two different answers. Advocates for the two breeds insist theirs is the best, and with good reason. Both Jerseys and Guernseys produce high-quality milk. However, each has different strengths.
Guernseys produce milk with high-fat content. It is chock full of beta carotene and protein. Jerseys are known for milk that is high in butterfat, which makes it ideal for making cheese, creamy yogurt, and ice cream. Jerseys produce more milk with less feed, so if that is important to you as a dairy cow owner, you may want to lean toward Jersey cows. Another huge plus for Jersey cows is that their rate of clinical mastitis is much lower than that for Guernseys and they are less likely to suffer injuries due to their smaller size.
If you are allergic to milk protein, we have good news for you. Both Jerseys and Guernseys produce A2 milk, which is better for those with lactose intolerance. You can forgo the digestive discomfort that comes with regular dairy and still enjoy a creamy glass of milk with your fresh baked cookies when you get it from Jersey or Guernsey.
Jersey vs. Guernsey: Personality
When it comes to which of these two breeds has the best personality, it is a bit of a toss-up. Both are known to be docile and mostly cooperative. Jerseys tend to be a little more skittish than Guernseys, but that does not mean they should be avoided. Just keep in mind they tend to be anxious creatures, so you will need to be a bit more patient with them.
Both Jerseys and Guernseys are ideal for novice dairy cow owners or those with small family homesteads who want to foray into the A2 raw milk business. There is one exception to this rule: Jersey bulls. They can be ill-tempered and have a reputation as being among the most difficult to manage of all dairy breeds.
The bottom line on Jersey and Guernsey cows
There is no wrong choice when you are exploring the option of having a dairy cow. Whether you want one for a small homestead or plan to have multiple cattle for a dairy business, each of these breeds comes with benefits. If you are having trouble deciding between the two and have the space, consider one (or more) of each breed for the best of both worlds.